Friday, January 29, 2016

MASS BIRD DIE-OFFS: Disaster Precursors - Hundreds Of Dead Seagulls Found On Sea Of Galilee Beach, Israel?!

A poisoned seagull being treated at the wild animal hospital at the Ramat Gan Safari, January 28, 2016.© Ramat Gan Safari

January 29, 2016 - ISRAEL - Hundreds of seagulls have been found dead on the Sea of Galilee's western shore, with an initial inquiry pointing to botulism poisoning.

Another 78 injured birds were given emergency first aid at the Tel Afeq National Park veterinary hospital's quarantine station in Tel Aviv, with some being tested to eliminate any suspicion that they may have contracted bird flu, the Walla website reported Thursday.

The gulls were subsequently transferred to the wild animal hospital at the Ramat Gan Safari, some of them in serious condition.

Botulism spores are commonly found in soil and water. They produce the botulinum toxin in conditions such as low oxygen and hot temperatures.

"It's not a sight that we are used to," a spokesperson for the Safari said. There had been cases of 15 animals needing treatment, but 80 in one go was "a real mass attack."

The treatment would continue for several days in the hope that the gulls could be returned to nature as quickly as possible, the Safari added.

Dr. Roni King, chief veterinarian for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, said botulism poisoning was a known phenomenon. There had been cases in the US of hundreds of thousands of dead birds being found in lakes.

Less than two months ago in Israel, a smaller number of gulls sustained poisoning in the Hadera area of the Mediterranean coast.

A few years ago, 150 birds were picked up from the beach between Acre and the Krayot, north of Haifa, of which only 50 survived.

In the current case, the poison was not from the Sea of Galilee, King said. The birds probably picked it up at their feeding site, only feeling the effects when they flew back to the lake. - The Times of Israel.

EXTREME WEATHER: Deadly Lightning Strikes In Zimbabwe - Bolt Kills Three People!

January 29, 2016 - ZIMBABWE
- A sombre atmosphere engulfed the Mutikwanda Village under Headman Chivhunze on Monday where three villagers were burnt beyond recognition after a lightning bolt struck a hut they were in.

Chipinge District police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Blessing Kadzuraumera, confirmed the incident which occurred around 3pm. He identified the victims as Tulani Dube (35), Adam Chivhunze (25) and a Mozambican national, Tichaona Sithole (14).

When The Manica Post visited the area on Monday, villagers were still struggling to put off the fire which had gutted the thatched hut where the late villagers and two survivors were sitting.

Member of National Assembly for Chipinge Central, Cde Raymore Machingura, also toured the scene and assisted the affected families with coffins and transport for burial.

Police from Chipinge Urban and a hospital ambulance reacted swiftly and took the two survivors to Chipinge District Hospital where they were treated and discharged on Tuesday.

A caretaker at the farm where the tragedy struck, Mrs Shilah Sithole (43), said: "The two, Tulani Dube, together with Adam Chivhunze were returning home from drilling boreholes in the nearby community. On their way home, they opted to seek shelter in the hut where my son, Tichaona was sitting.

"The three were later joined by a group of school children from Mooiplaats B Primary School. The rains subsidised and the school children left for their respective homes, leaving the five occupants in the hut.

Suddenly a lightning bolt struck the hut. I peeped through the window from my bedroom hut and I was surprised to see the thatched room on fire.

"I rushed to the scene and found two people lying unconscious outside the hut. I discovered that the three including my son, Tichaona had been struck by lightning
. I raised alarm and other villagers rushed to the scene," she said.

Another witness, Sign Nerutanga, said villagers failed to assist fearing for their own safety. They were frightened that the bolt might strike again.

Addressing the mourners, Cde Machingura said it was disheartening to lose lives in such a tragedy. - The Manica Post.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Weather Phenomenon - Stunning Sun Halo Appears In The Sky Over Wuhan, China! [PHOTOS]

January 29, 2016 -WUHAN, CHINA - Residents of a regional Chinese town were left amazed by a huge, bright solar halo which seemed to crown a Buddhist temple monument.

The naturally-occurring marvel appeared above the Guiyuan Buddhist Temple in Wuhan, central China, on January 26 and lit up the sky with its colours, according to a report from People's Daily Online.

The rare 'Buddha's halo', which appears like a circular rainbow, rendered local people awe-struck and gazing up into the atmosphere.

Chinese social media lit up when a similar phenomenon appeared above Beijing in September 2015, with many not understanding it.

Solar halos, also known as 'sundogs' or 'mock suns', are caused by bright sunlight refracting through thin Cirrostratus clouds in the sky.

The official given name is 'pathelia' and the spectacle begins to be formed when rays of light pass through ice crystals 20,000 feet up. - Daily Mail.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Weather Anomalies & Ice Age Now As Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - Snow Falls In Kuwait For "THE FIRST TIME EVER"! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

Twitter: Rori Donaghy

January 29, 2016 - KUWAIT - Snow fell on Kuwait on Thursday morning for the first time in the country's history, pictures sent to Middle East Eye show.

Footage sent to MEE showed snow flakes falling in the Gulf state, where temperatures have plummeted in recent days. Photos showed Kuwait's desert landscape dusted with a sprinkling of snow.

Temperatures in Kuwait soar up to 50C in the summer months and even in winter 20C is the norm. However, on Thursday the temperature was as low as 3C.

There is no record of snow having fallen in Kuwait before, although the emirate has experienced hail and frost in the past when temperatures have fallen in the winter.

Twitter: Rori Donaghy

Twitter: Rori Donaghy

This photo from Kuwait this week probably shows hail, not snow. Even this, however, is extremely unusual for the hot desert country.© Storm Centre

A Kuwaiti told MEE that Thursday's snow was a first for the country.

"I asked my grandfather, he said there has never been snow before," they said, preferring to remain anonymous. "Everyone is surprised."

While snow is unheard of in Kuwait, in neighbouring Saudi Arabia the north of the country regularly sees snowfall.

In the city of Rafha on Thursday temperatures fell to -2C. Photos and footage sent to MEE showed the ground covered in snow.

Temperatures are expected to recover quickly in Kuwait, with predictions for the rest of the week of highs of 20C. In northern Saudi Arabia, the weather is also set to improve, and temperatures will increase to a high of 19C. - Middle East Eye.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - MONSTER Sinkhole Closes Part Of Highway 101 In Coastal Oregon! [VIDEO]

© Oregon DOT

January 29, 2016 - OREGON, UNITED STATES - A huge sinkhole that won't stop growing has shut down a stretch of Highway 101 in coastal Oregon.

"It's massive. There's just no other way to describe it," Jared Castle, Department of Transportation spokesman for southwest Oregon, told NBC News.

The state closed down part of 101 in Harbor, Oregon, on Thursday night due to the sinkhole, which is the second sinkhole in as many months in the area.

© Oregon DOT

The first one opened on Dec. 13 in a restaurant parking lot next to the highway and, like Thursday's sinkhole, just kept growing. The two sinkholes "probably have now met," Castle said, creating one gaping hole in the highway. "It's a monster," he said. Officials did not know how big it was, but said its depth exceeds 60 feet.

There have been no injuries or evacuations, and officials have re-routed traffic to a detour that runs parallel to the highway, which Castle says will only add 5 or 10 minutes to drivers' commutes. The sinkholes formed after a series of heavy rains pounded the Oregon coast, causing a landslide north of Harbor and shutting down other highways due to debris flow.

WATCH: Massive sinkhole in Oregon.

Sinkholes and landslides frequently occur in the region because of the geology of the area, Castle said. "It's just part of the battle of having the Oregon Coast Highway located where it's at. It's a road built in a place where Mother Nature never intended for there to be a road," he said.

Transportation workers have been "gently" trying to repair the sinkhole for the last month, but now are bringing in heavy equipment, Castle added. The stretch of Highway 101 is expected to reopen by March. - NBC News.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: The Latest Developments In The Zika Virus Outbreak - British Travelers Advised To Use Condoms, Delay Trying For A Baby; Brazilian President Calls For Mosquito Extermination; Brazil Fumigates Olympic Venue As Fears Mount; Puerto Rico Confirms 19 Cases; U.S. Health Authority Says Virus Transmitted Through Sex In 2 Possible Cases; Texas Is The Perfect Place For The Virus To Flourish; Victim Relates First-Hand Story Of Her Experience With The Infection!

January 29, 2016 - HEALTH - Here are the latest news reports on the Zika virus, as it spreads "explosively" across the Americas.

British travelers advised to use condoms, delay trying for a baby

Couples trying to conceive a baby should delay for one month if one or both partners have just returned from a Central or South American country afflicted by the Zika virus, health officials have warned.

Information from Public Health England (PHE) suggests men use condoms for at least 28 days after returning from any of the 23 countries, including Brazil and Mexico, especially if their partner is not taking a contraceptive or is already pregnant.

Its advice comes after a warning for pregnant women to avoid traveling to countries where there has been an outbreak.

Men who suffered symptoms of the Zika virus, including fever, rash and joint pain, should avoid having unprotected sex for six months, the healthcare body warned.

There is no known cure or treatment for the Zika virus, and experts say a vaccination could be years away from being fully developed.
While it is not deadly to humans, the virus is thought to trigger microcephaly in fetuses, and cause them to be born with abnormally small heads and brains.

In Central and South America some 4,000 babies are thought to have been affected by the disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated the spread of the disease could leave 4 million infected by the end of 2016.

PHE warned returning travelers against unprotected sex.

“If a female partner is at risk of getting pregnant, or is already pregnant, condom use is advised for a male traveler for 28 days after his return from a Zika transmission area if he had no symptoms of unexplained fever and rash,” the advice read.

“Condom use is advised for a male traveler for 6 months following recovery if a clinical illness compatible with Zika virus infection or laboratory confirmed Zika virus infection was reported.”

Six Britons have already been found to have contracted the virus, which is transmitted through mosquito bites. They caught the disease while travelling in Columbia, Mexico and other South American countries.

Dr Anthony Wilson from the Pirbright Institute explained that the mosquitoes that carry the virus would find it hard to survive in the UK.

“Aedes aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito, does not occur in the UK. It’s too cold for Aedes aegypti to establish in the UK, although in ideal summer conditions introduced individual mosquitoes might be able to survive for a few days; there was a small outbreak of yellow fever in Wales (Swansea) in 1861 which is believed to have been spread via mosquitoes that were inadvertently introduced on a ship returning from Cuba,” he told the Telegraph.

“It is plausible that a related species, Aedes albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito) could be playing a role in the transmission of Zika virus in the Brazilian outbreak; it has been implicated during other Zika outbreaks.”However, one British expert claims that the mosquitos have already been spotted in the English countryside, saying they could travel to the country in the stagnant water trapped in car tires. - RT.

Brazilian President Calls for Mosquito Extermination Amid Zika Virus Spread

© REUTERS/ Ueslei Marcelino
The current Zika virus outbreak originated in Brazil last year and later spread across Latin America, having been registered in over 20 different countries since March 2015.

"While we don't have a vaccine against the virus Zika, the war should focus on the extermination of mosquito breeding sites," Rousseff wrote on Twitter.

On Wednesday, Nicaragua became the 22nd country affected by the Zika outbreak. The country’s government announced that two people had been infected with the virus in the country’s capital, Managua.

The Zika virus affects primarily monkeys and humans and is transmitted by daytime-active mosquitos. It does not cause serious complications in adults, however, it can lead to babies being born with microcephaly, which is a case of an underdeveloped brain.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned pregnant women to avoid traveling to at least 24 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific amid the Zika virus outbreak. - Sputnik.

Brazil fumigates Olympic venue as fears mount over Zika

Health workers fumigate the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro Photo: AP

Concerns over the Zika virus reached new heights on Tuesday after Brazil sent fumigators into Rio de Janeiro's world-famous carnival venue that will help host the Olympic games amid intensified efforts to control the mosquito-borne infection.

Workers in protective overalls and goggles sprayed the Sambadrome facility two weeks before it stages next month's carnival parades even as a senior official stoked further fears by suggesting that the war against Zika - thought to cause brain defects in new-born babies - was being lost. The 90,000-capacity Sambadrome - which has hosted outdoor concerts by major acts like David Bowie and the Rolling Stones - is one of Rio's most iconic venues and will stage the archery events during this summer's Olympic games.

It became the unexpected focus of attention in the government's public health campaign against Zika as Marcelo Castro, Brazil's health minister, said 220,,000 troops would go door-to-door in an attempt to eradicate the virus before the carnival takes place on February 7 and 8.

Mosquito repellent would be handed out to 400,000 women on social welfare, he said.

Yet Mr Castro appeared to undermine hopes of re-assuring the public by saying that the drive to combat the virus had come too late, prompting calls for him to be sacked.

The country was "badly losing the battle" against the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits Zika, as well as dengue, hikungunya and yellow fever, he told a crisis meeting in Brasilia, Brazil's capital city.

"The mosquito has been here in Brazil for three decades, and we are badly losing the battle against the mosquito," he said in comments that were criticised as "fatalistic" by the Geneva-based World Health Organisation. - Telegraph.

Puerto Rico Confirms 19 Cases of Zika Virus

© REUTERS/ Denis Balibouse
The US territory of Puerto Rico has 19 cases of the mosquito-born Zika virus, which is believed to cause serious birth defects if contracted by pregnant women, the Puerto Rico Health Department confirmed on Tuesday.

"[Puerto Rico] today confirmed 19 cases of Zika virus in Puerto Rico, chiefly in the southeastern zone," Health Department Secretary Ana Riu was quoted as saying by El Vocero.

The US Centers for Disease Control has stated there are serious birth defects of the brain called microcephaly as well as other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with the Zika virus. The Zika virus can be spread from pregnant women to unborn babies.

Puerto Rico epidemiologist Brenda Rivera said the majority of cases are in the island's southeast region, according to a separate report on Fox News. None of the victims were pregnant and that many of were elderly, Rivera added. - Sputnik.

Zika virus transmitted through sex in 2 possible cases – US health authority

There are two recorded cases when the highly dangerous Zika virus may have been transmitted through sexual intercourse, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said. The WHO says between 3 and 4 million people may have been infected this year. "There is one reported case of Zika virus through possible sexual transmission," said Anna Schuchat, deputy director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), referring to the case of a 44-year-old Tahiti man who contracted the virus during its outbreak in French Polynesia in 2013.

A test revealed high levels of the virus in his semen even after it was no longer present in his blood samples, the New York Times reported.

Another case of Zika exposure through sex dates back to 2008. Dr. Brian D. Foy, a US biologist, was infected with the virus while conducting a malaria research in Senegal. He was reportedly bitten by the mosquitoes he collected for the study. After coming back to Colorado, he displayed various symptoms, including a rash, fatigue and a headache that ensued from as then-unidentified infection, apparently transmitted by mosquitoes. He also complained about pain in his genitals and blood in his semen.

His assistant, Kevin C. Kobylinski, who was working along him in Africa, developed similar symptoms. Both were tested negative for malaria, dengue and yellow fever, which the Aedes mosquito typically carries. In a few days, the mysterious virus manifested itself in Foy’s wife, who also suffered from a rash, severe headache and bloodshot eyes.

In 2009, after their frozen blood samples were retested for the Zika virus, the results came back positive. While no one of Foy’s four children fell ill and his wife couldn’t have caught the infection in Colorado, Foy concluded that Zika virus was “most likely a sexual transmitted infection.” He wrote about his finding in an article for a medical journal in 2011.

Despite the worrying evidence, the CDC stressed that "the science is very clear to date that the Zika virus is primarily transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito,” adding that efforts should be put into preventing that kind of transmission.

However, some scientists urge not to be skeptical about the chances of the illness to be sexually transmitted.Two cases “are not really enough to warrant a large public health recommendation from the CDC. But it’s provocative, so someone else could recommend it. And it certainly should be studied,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chief of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical.  - RT.

Zika in Texas? 'We have the perfect storm to allow virus to flourish' 

 When Dr Peter Hotez hears experts assert that Zika is unlikely to spread significantly in the US, his response is: go to the Houston’s Fifth Ward and look around.
Photograph: Tom Dart for the Guardian
Dr Peter Hotez gestured at three tyres dumped on the weed-ravaged, litter-strewn roadside by a boarded-up house on Worms Street.

To Hotez they were more than an eyesore – they signified a potential health hazard, the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes that could spread the Zika virus.

The World Health Organisation has warned that the virus is spreading “explosively” through the Americas, with one estimate that there could be as many as 4m infections across the continent over the next year.

At a special briefing in Geneva on Thursday, Margaret Chan, the WHO director general warned it was a threat of “alarming proportions”. Hotez, an eminent scientist and researcher who is dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, agrees.

“I’m quite convinced it’s going to be all over the Caribbean within the next few weeks. And then, where’s next?” he said. “Where we’re standing here in the Gulf Coast … Pretty much all of the Gulf Coast cities are vulnerable but Houston is the largest.”

It is less than 15 minutes’ drive from Hotez’s office in the world’s biggest medical complex to the Fifth Ward, a historic, mostly African American quarter just north-east of downtown Houston.

When he hears experts assert that Zika is unlikely to spread significantly in the US, his response is: go to the Fifth Ward and look around.

Broken window screens lie discarded a few feet away from the tyres. A block away, more tyres, a sofa, armchairs, drawers and a colorful variety of other household waste were piled in the street. A rooster crowed somewhere, barely audible above the drone of the traffic barrelling through on the nearby knot of elevated freeways. It was a grey, damp morning. The streets had not yet fully drained from the overnight rain. In some sodden nooks it seemed doubtful they ever would.

“I could show you dozens of neighborhoods like this in south-east Texas, along the Gulf Coast,” said Hotez. “What we have is dilapidated housing, inadequate or absent window screens, standing water, poor drainage, which are going to allow the mosquitoes to breed, and then the classic piece to this is the discarded tyres along the side of the road. Aedes mosquitoes love discarded tyres filled with water.”

Reports emerged this week that two people in Virginia and Arkansas who had traveled abroad had tested positive for the virus, which is spread when infected mosquitoes bite people. The most common symptoms are mild but it can be transmitted from pregnant mothers to babies.  - The Guardian.

‘I ached and my hands felt frozen’: A Zika virus victim’s tale 

Jade Coelho de MirandaPhoto: Carlos Augusto

Contracting the Zika virus is as scary as it sounds, according to 21-year-old Brazilian college student Jade Coelho de Miranda, who was infected last year. She told The Post about her first-hand experience with the virus and its effect on her hometown of Rio de Janeiro, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Last October, I frequently hung around a large park at my college, the Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. I didn’t think much of all the mosquitoes in the area — until I broke out in a rash that covered my entire body.

I was scared.

I told my dad, and soon found myself at a hospital, where they did multiple tests that confirmed I had contracted the Zika virus.

For the next week, I had severe muscle pain and a fever, two of the most common side effects of the infection caused by Aedes mosquito bites.

My whole body felt immobilized. I started having difficulty moving my hands — feeling like they were frozen. My eyes became irritated, too.

It was a terrible week. I couldn’t go out, exercise or do anything because the joint pain was so strong.

My pain was bad, but it was nothing compared to my father’s.

He was diagnosed a few days after me. His case was worse because it developed into a rare disease called Guillain-Barré syndrome, causing him to experience weakness in his legs and upper body.

He said he had pins-and-needles sensations in his fingers, toes, ankles and wrists for three months.

Cases like my dad’s worry me the most, as Zika has a different effect on each person. Some people might develop a rare syndrome like he did.

Right now, a lot of people in Brazil are afraid of Zika, especially pregnant women. Each week, there are more cases of newborn children being diagnosed with microcephaly, a birth defect that causes smaller skulls and brains.

There are some things we can do to prevent the Zika virus from spreading — wear bug spray, cover exposed skin, close domestic water tanks to prevent mosquitoes from getting in and dispose of garbage in a timely fashion.

I heard that soon, Americans may experience an outbreak. It is important that if you feel any of the symptoms I described, you go see a doctor immediately. Staying home and resting were essential to me feeling better.

While I’m not pleased that Zika is spreading, I am more hopeful that something will change now that it has garnered international attention.

Maybe now, authorities will be motivated to research the virus and finally be able to provide a solution for this disease.
We need a vaccine now.

We need a cure now — before it gets worse. - New York Post.

MONUMENTAL DISASTER ALERT: The Biggest Environmental Disaster In United States History Is Happening Right Now - They May Have "LOST CONTROL ENTIRELY OF ENTIRE FIELD" Involved In Los Angeles Gas Disaster, And It's Coming Up EVERYWHERE; There Are Many Other Leaks; Loud Sound Of Gas Escaping Heard Half Mile Away; A "MINI-CHERNOBYL"; Leak Is "OUT OF CONTROL"; The Amount Released Is "SERIOUSLY UNDERESTIMATED"; The Wildlife Is "DISAPPEARING" Around Disaster Area; Residents Say That "It's COMPLETELY QUIET"; Birds, Butterflies, Rabbits And Coyotes ARE MISSING; ALL Fish In Pond FOUND DEAD; "All Of This Is Gone,... Makes Me Wonder How Bad It Really Is,..."; Animal With "WORST BLOOD" EVER SEEN By Doctor?! [VIDEOS]

A Porter Ranch resident wears a gas mask during a protest Saturday outside a meeting of the Air Quality Management Board over the Aliso Canyon gas leak. The leak
started in October and has forced thousands of residents to flee from the Los Angeles suburb of Porter Ranch. Regulators have ordered the
gas company to shut down the leaking well; some residents want the entire facility shuttered.
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

January 29, 2016 - CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - “This the largest natural gas leak in history. We were up there yesterday… what we heard was a loud sound of natural gas escaping that you could hear quite loudly from over half a mile away.” - Rep. Brad Sherman, U.S. House of Representatives.

WATCH: Utilities and Commerce Committee Hearing in Granada Hills over Aliso Canyon Gas Leak.

“Now it’s kind of simple — if you have a well blow-out, you quit injecting [more gas] underground… No order had been issued [to stop this] though… We sent a letter [to the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR)] saying, “Stop all of the injections, until you can stop the leak”… So we sent a letter on Dec. 1 asking them to stop all injections… Nine days later, they said, “Stop injecting gas”… You’d think that at least temporarily settled it — because if [SoCalGas] didn’t like that, SoCalGas could have temporarily appealed… I have no record of appeal… AQMD [Air Quality Management District] inspected the facility on Nov. 10… and they found all these wells that weren’t accessible16 approximately… We don’t know yet why they were inaccessible. We also learned that 15 wells were leaking. We also don’t know why that happened. I spoke at the AQMD hearing this last week and said, “I’m concerned that the fact that now you guys are looking at these injection wells — you don’t know what that means.” You see, DOGGR knows what that means — and that’s a sign that SoCalGas lost control entirely of the entire field and it’s leaking everywhere So we were like, “We want proof. Now if it’s just coincidental, and you show us why that’s not what’s happening, that’s fine, but provide the evidence”… Families have a right to know what’s going on in that oil field.” - Patricia Oliver, attorney (at 11:30 in), Porter Ranch Town Hall Meeting.

WATCH: Porter Ranch Town Hall Meeting - January 22, 2016.

Residents attack slow response to what official called ‘a mini-Chernobyl’… “This is a mini-Chernobyl,” Mike Antonovich, the LA county supervisor, told a public hearing at the weekend… [It] is the largest leak of… methane known to experts. - The Guardian.

A new report shows the level of toxins released… has been seriously underestimated, state regulators said… The findings were released in response to [SoCalGas' admission that they] underestimated the number of times the cancer-causing chemical benzene has spiked. - CBS/AP.

Officials Waited Months To Monitor California’s Massive Gas Leak — A massive natural gas leak… had been out of control for more than a month when the county’s acting health director said in November that long-term impacts of the cancer-causing chemical benzene should be measured. It took many more weeks to implement the testing… “We can always look back and say, ‘Why didn’t we start with an expanded monitoring program?’” said Angelo Bellomo, deputy county director for health protection… Rob Jackson, an environmental scientist at Stanford University, said… it had undermined the ability to measure health impacts. - AP.

Porter Ranch residents report unexplained ailments, behaviors in pets… [A family] lost all 20 of their brightly colored Koi fish after they started dying [Others] have noticed fewer bird and wildlife sightings. - City News Service.

[The Katz's], parents of five… are living a nightmare… Her pride and joy was her garden and a koi pond. She cries when she recounts how all 20 fish died…“The birds, the butterflies, all of this is gone. It’s quiet now.” - Al Jazeera.

We used to see coyotes and animals” [Jennifer Marotta] said. “It makes me wonder how bad it really is.” - L.A. Daily News.

[Residents] have noticed fewer bird and wildlife sightings [Attorney Rex Parris wrote to officials] that pets are ill or disappearing and wildlife, such as birds and rabbits, seem to be disappearing as well from the community… [Sally Taylor’s dog] quickly became lethargic and threw up some 20 times within an hour… “[The vet hospital] said it was the worst blood work the vet has ever seen”… For the Balen family, it’s the sound of birds they’ve missed the most. In late December, they said the absence made their home… “completely quiet… for 10 years… every morning, we wake up to the birds chirping. Not anymore.” - L.A. Daily News.

KABC, Jan 19, 2016: [The gas leak is] affecting many pets… “We’re seeing probably several hundred total and it’s been going on for around three months now,” [Dr. David Smith at Northridge Animal Hospital] said. Smith said it started shortly after [they] first reported the leak… Smith said he has serious concerns about the health risks for the animals. - .

Government officials have come up with their own interesting explanations for the disappearance of wildlife:

Wild animals may have left the area because of the noise coming from crews attempting to fix the well, [Department of Fish and Wildlife] spokeswoman Mary Fricke said. - L.A. Times.

, Jan 16, 2016: “There is a lot of noise and construction… Typically, animals like coyotes and bears will stay away from loud noises.” - Steve Gonzalez, public information officer for the Dept. of Fish & Wildlife.

 WATCH: Pets suffering from ailments amid Porter Ranch gas leak.

- ENE News.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - Cold Weather And Heavy Snowfall Continues In Turkey; 2,500 Roads Closed; Over 2 Meter Snowdrifts; And Minus 27 DEGREES CELSIUS Recorded! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

Snowdrift Turkey

January 29, 2016 - TURKEY - Turkey grappled on Tuesday with cold weather and heavy snowfall that led to the cancellation of flights and ferries in İstanbul and that covered many provinces in the rest of the country, Cihan news agency reported on Tuesday.

The inclement weather caused a number of car accidents, and some schools were forced to close. Authorities warned drivers to take extra care due to the poor weather conditions.

Flights and ferries canceled in İstanbul

Snowfall hit İstanbul's higher elevations early on Tuesday and spread to the rest of the city by the afternoon. Teams from the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality and district municipalities salted the roads as a precaution against ice. Many İstanbul residents and visitors enjoyed the snowfall in historic areas such as Sultanahmet and popular tourism spots like Taksim Square.

Turkish Airlines (THY) and the İstanbul Ferry Lines (İDO) announced on Tuesday that certain flights and ferries were canceled due to the harsh weather conditions.

Snowdrift Turkey

Uludağ, Bursa, Turkey © DHA

İDO canceled all its intra-city ferry services in İstanbul due to sea conditions. Some of the inter-city ferries, including the Kadıköy-Yenikapı-Bursa ferry and the Yalova / Kartal ferries, were also cancelled.

THY cancelled 143 flights to and from İstanbul and warned of further disruption in the coming days, as the city braces itself for heavy snow on Wednesday.

Pegasus Airlines, Atlasglobal and Onur Air also cancelled 22, 10 and six flights, respectively, due to the snow. Six injured in accident in Edirne due to icy road

A midibus in the Süloğlu district of Edirne collided with a truck on the Edirne-Süloğlu Highway on Tuesday morning due to icy road conditions following heavy snow. Six people were pulled out of the midibus after its windows had been broken, and all were taken to the Edirne State Hospital.

Meanwhile, a car overturned when the driver lost control of the vehicle in the Beylikdüzü district of İstanbul. Thousands of village roads closed as a result of snowfall

Many villages roads have been closed as a result of snowfall in the southeastern province of Bingöl. An elderly man suffering from a high fever in the Kaşıkçı village of the Karlıova district took nine hours to get to the Bingöl State Hospital, after snow teams cleared the village road. A pregnant woman in the Şaban village of the Karlıova district was also taken to Bingöl State Hospital, after a team from National Medical Rescue (UMKE) had worked six-and-a-half hours to clear the snow on the village road.

WATCH: Cold weather in Turkey.

A total of 2,500 village roads were closed due to heavy snowfall and storms throughout the eastern provinces of Erzurum, Erzincan, Kars, Ağrı, Ardahan, Erzincan and Iğdır. Snowfall reached up to 76 centimeters in Ağrı, 48 in Erzurum, 23 in Kars and 16 in Erzincan. Teams from the Special Provincial Directorates continued to work to clear snow from the roads on Tuesday.

The lowest temperatures in the region were recorded in Ardahan's Göle district, with minus 27 degrees Celsius, whereas Erzurum saw the temperature drop to minus 18 degrees, Kars saw minus 15 degrees, Muş saw minus 11 degrees and Iğdır reached minus 6 degrees.

Snow also started to fall in the Black Sea provinces of Rize, Trabzon and Samsun on Tuesday. It took an elderly man using a respirator in the Derapazarı district of Rize six hours to get to the Rize Tayyip Erdoğan Research and Teaching Hospital after his village lost power. The snow reached depths of one meter in Rize's city center, while 348 village roads were closed as a result of persistent snowfall across the province.

The snowfall that began on Saturday in Trabzon continued in full force throughout Tuesday, with the temperature falling to minus 5 degrees Celsius at the center of the city on Monday night. The Trabzon Governor's Office released a written statement on Tuesday saying pregnant women and disabled public servants would be given the day off due to the weather conditions.

The depth of the snow in Uludağ, home to one of the most popular ski resorts in the country, reached 205 centimeters, as temperatures on the mountain fell to minus 16 degrees on Monday night.

Snow and extremely cold weather over the past three days have led to the closure of close to 700 village roads in Bitlis and Hakkari provinces. A total of 315 village roads in Bitlis and 382 in Hakkari have been closed due to the heavy snowfall. - Today's Zaman.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - Bryde's Whale Mysteriously Washes Up On Beach In Mumbai, India?! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

The whale weighs around 20 tonnes.

January 29, 2016 - MUMBAI, INDIA - A nearly 40-foot whale drew large crowds on Mumbai's popular Juhu beach on Friday until it was removed with the help of a crane. The whale, weighing around 20 tonnes, had washed up on Thursday night.

It was noticed by lifeguards and joggers who called the police.

A forest official assessed that the "Bryde's Whale" had been dead for two or three days.

"There are no wounds. A postmortem will be done and we will try to preserve its skeleton," said Makarand B Ghodke, conservator in the Mumbai Forest Department. A crane was called in to remove the massive whale from the beach, which rests against the Arabian Sea.

This is the second biggest whale to have beached along the Maharashtra coast. Last year, a blue whale washed up at Alibaugh and died after a 10-hour struggle to push her back into the sea.

Experts have listed several possible causes of death.

"There could be many reasons - sound pollution under water, pollution from industries, plastic consumption, or even disease, since the animal has no external injuries," said Animesh Limaye, an expert from Reefwatch India.

WATCH: Dead whale washed ashore at Mumbai.

Beaches line Mumbai's coast and they are often home to piles of rubbish, particularly during the monsoon months when high tides leave tonnes of waste.

Earlier this month, 45 dead short-finned whales washed up at a beach in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin district.

Around 40 more that were also stranded on the beach were saved. Officials suggested that the whales ended up in Tuticorin after travelling thousands of kilometres from the Pacific. - NDTV.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Rise Of The SUPER PESTS - Bed Bugs Are Becoming Resistant To Common Insecticides!

In the US alone, millions of dollars are spent on the most widely used commercial chemicals to kill bedbugs (microscopic image shown)
but their overuse has led to an increased resistance to the compounds

January 29, 2016 - UNITED STATES - They live in the cracks and crevices of beds and crawl out a night to suck blood by detecting our body heat and carbon dioxide.

Now the much loathed bed bug is threatening to become even more of a pest because it is resistant to a common insecticide, scientists warn.

Exotic holidays have been blamed for the recent resurgence of bed bugs in homes as they hitch a ride on clothing or in luggage.

The research has found the parasites have developed a tolerance to neonicotinoids, or neonics, because of their widespread use.

It is the first study to show the overuse of certain insecticides has led to an increased resistance to the compounds, making them much less effective than advertised.

In the US alone, millions of dollars are spent on the most widely used commercial chemicals to kill bedbugs, but their overuse has led to an increased resistance to the compounds.

The blood-sucking bed bug (pictured) that's attracted to our body heat and carbon dioxide is threatening to become even more of a
pest because it is resistant to a common insecticide, scientists warn

New research has found the parasites have developed a tolerance to neonicotinoids, or neonics, because of their widespread use.
A stock image of  fumigation is pictured

Researchers collected bed bugs from homes in Cincinnati and Michigan and exposed them to four different neonics -
acetamiprid, dinotefuran, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. A stock image of fumegation is shown

Assistant professor Troy Anderson, from Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences said: 'While we all want a powerful tool to fight bed bug infestations, what we are using as a chemical intervention is not working as effectively it was designed and, in turn, people are spending a lot of money on products that aren't working. 'Unfortunately, the insecticides we were hoping would help solve some of our bed bug problems are no longer as effective as they used to be, so we need to re-evaluate some of our strategies for fighting them.'

Products developed to eradicate infestations in recent years combine both neonics with pyrethroids - another class of insecticide.

Assistant Professor Dr Alvaro Romero from New Mexico State University added: 'If resistance is detected, products with different modes of action need to be considered, along with the use of non-chemical methods.

'Companies need to be vigilant for hints of declining performance of products that contain neonicotinoids.

'For example, bed bugs persisting on previously treated surfaces might be an indication of resistance.

'In these cases, laboratory confirmation of resistance is advised, and if resistance is detected, products with different modes of action need to be considered, along with the use of non-chemical methods.'

The study, published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, is the first to confirm the resistance.

Researchers collected bed bugs from homes in Cincinnati and Michigan and exposed them to four different neonics: acetamiprid, dinotefuran, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam.

They also used the chemicals on a bed bug colony kept free of insecticide exposure for more than 30 years and to a pyrethroid-resistant population from Jersey City that had not been exposed to neonics since they were collected in 2008.

Those that hadn't been exposed to the neonics died after contact with very small amounts of the pesticide, while the Jersey City bed bugs showed moderate resistance to acetamiprid and dinotefuran, but not to imidacloprid or thiamethoxam.

The Jersey City colony's resistance could be due to pre-existing resistance mechanisms.

When exposed to insecticides, bed bugs produce 'detoxifying enzymes' to counter them.

The levels of detoxifying enzymes in the Jersey City bed bugs were higher than those of the susceptible Harlan population.

Professor Romero explained: 'Elevated levels of detoxifying enzymes induced by other classes of insecticides might affect the performance of newer insecticides.'

The Michigan and Cincinnati bed bugs, which were collected after combinations of pyrethroids and neonicotinoids were introduced, had even higher levels of resistance to neonics.

It only took 0.3 nanograms of acetamiprid to kill 50 per cent of the non-resistant bed bugs from Dr Harlan's lab, but it took more than 10,000 nanograms to kill 50 per cent of the Michigan and Cincinnati bed bugs.

Just 2.3 nanograms of imidacloprid was enough to kill 50 per cent of the Harlan bed bugs, but it took 1,064 and 365 nanograms to kill the Michigan and Cincinnati bed bugs, respectively.

The numbers were similar for dinotefuran and thiamethoxam.

Compared to the Harlan control group, the Michigan bed bugs were 462 times more resistant to imidacloprid, 198 times more resistant to dinotefuran, 546 times more resistant to thiamethoxam, and 33,333 times more resistant to acetamiprid.

The Cincinnati bed bugs were 163 times more resistant to imidacloprid, 226 times more resistant to thiamethoxam, 358 times more resistant to dinotefuran, and 33,333 times more resistant to acetamiprid.  - Daily Mail.

PARADIGM SHIFT: Precursors To The End Of The White Supremacy Paradigm - BRICS Market Economies Gets Greater Say In The IMF; A "MAJOR STEP" Toward Better Reflecting The Institution's Governance Structure; IMF Chief Christine Lagarde Calls It "HISTORIC REFORMS"!

January 29, 2016 - GLOBAL ECONOMY - For the first time the four emerging market economies Brazil, Russia, India and China have entered the International Monetary Fund's top 10 biggest members. The IMF’s 2010 quota and governance reforms have finally come into force.

"The entry into force of these reforms will reinforce the credibility, effectiveness, and legitimacy of the IMF," read the IMF statement.

"The reforms represent a major step toward better reflecting in the institution’s governance structure the increasing role of dynamic emerging market and developing countries," it added.

China will have the third largest IMF quota and voting share after the United States with 16.74 percent and Japan with 6.23 percent.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde. ©  Reuters.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde on Wednesday commended members “for ratifying these truly historic reforms.”

“These reforms will ensure that the Fund is able to better meet and represent the needs of its members in a rapidly changing global environment. Today marks a crucial step forward and it is not the end of change as our efforts to strengthen the IMF’s governance will continue,” she said.

The 2010 IMF reforms called for an increase in China’s voting share from 3.8 percent to 6 percent, while the US would see its share shaved from 16.7 percent to 16.5 percent and preserve its veto.

The reforms were part of President Obama's effort to keep China happy and within the Bretton Woods system, but stalled in Congress over Republican concerns.

The US is the biggest member of the IMF and is the only one to have a veto, as 15 percent is a blocking share.

Despite the increased quotas, BRICS countries will still only have a 14.7 percent voting share, not enough for a veto.

According to Russia's Deputy Finance Minister and BRICS Bank Russia director Sergey Storchak, Moscow will work to get the veto right for the five major emerging economies. - RT.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFFS: Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - 8,900 Farm Animals Killed By Cold Weather In Vietnam! [VIDEO]

A buffalo is found dead due to the chill in Lao Cai Province.

January 29, 2016 - VIETNAM - The number of farm animals killed in the record-low cold snap since last week rocketed to more than 8,900 - 11 times the figure released two days earlier, agriculture officials said on Wednesday.

Mountainous Son La Province replaced Quang Ninh Province in the previous report to become the hardest-hit locality with 2,756 animals frozen to death. This accounted for 38 per cent of the total.

Dead cattle, goat, horses and pigs were found across seven communes in Son La, one of which was Van Ho Commune, where snow fell for the first time in decades.

The northwestern province of Dien Bien was the second hardest-hit, with 641 out of 7,134 farm animals killed.

WATCH: Vietnamese farmers struggle in cold snap.

The number of animals lost in the freezing weather this year was three times the number recorded in early 2014 (about 2,000). However, it didn't come close to hitting the record 210,000 farm animals killed in 2008, another uncharacteristically cold year.

Son La Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Ha Quyet Nghi told the Phap Luat Viet Nam (Viet Nam Law) newspaper yesterday that the number was not likely to stop there.

"We are still sending officers down to each locality to track down the exact figure," Nghi said.

"After the work is finalised, we will come up with plans to provide support for the affected residents based on state regulations".

Except for Lao Cai Province, which had damages of VND5 billion (US$222,200), there aren't any official records on the estimated losses of other localities caught in the cold spell.

Temperatures in the northern region were expected to rise quickly from yesterday to an average of 10 degrees Celsius. But the Department of Livestock under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development still asked northern provinces to work quickly to protect their animals from the cold and avoid further losses.

Another report by the Central Steering Committee on Disaster Prevention and Rescue on Wednesday evening showed that 10,725ha of paddy fields and vegetables were destroyed in the cold snap, while more than 80,000ha of forest were covered in snow. - Viet Nam News.

EXTREME WEATHER: Potent Storm Likely To Fuel Severe Weather From Louisiana To Illinois On Groundhog Day - Could Bring Heavy Rainfall, Mountain Snow, Gusty Thunderstorms, Damaging Winds, Flash Flooding, Hail And Tornadoes! [MAPS]

January 29, 2016 - UNITED STATES - A potent storm is likely to fuel a significant severe weather outbreak over part of the southern Plains and Mississippi Valley early next week, including on Groundhog Day.

A strong storm system will move in from the Pacific Ocean over California late this weekend.

In addition to bringing consequences from heavy rain and mountain snow to California and the interior Southwest on Sunday, the storm could bring dramatic and dangerous weather conditions as it pushes east of the Rockies.

The weather pattern will be more like March, rather than early February, in the days leading up to the storm.

According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity, a buildup of warmth will take place this weekend and into early next week over the southern Plains ahead of the storm.

"The warmup and strong winds aloft associated with the system will help to fuel heavy, gusty thunderstorms that could evolve into a severe weather outbreak perhaps centered on the Mississippi and lower Ohio valleys on Tuesday," Margusity said.

While the exact timing and extent of severe weather are not set in stone at this point, early signs are pointing to the threat for a few isolated tornadoes. Damaging winds and flash flooding could be more widespread impacts of the severe weather.

Another aspect of the storm will be snow and wind on its northwestern flank.

During late Monday and Monday night, the first powerful thunderstorms of the event may erupt from parts of western Missouri to the eastern parts of Oklahoma and Texas and the western parts of Arkansas and Louisiana. Those traveling near Springfield, Missouri; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Little Rock, Arkansas; Houston and Shreveport, Louisiana; will need to be on alert for the development of damaging thunderstorms.

During Tuesday into Tuesday night, the risk of severe weather is likely to spread, expand and ramp up farther to the east.

The severe weather threat could extend as far to the north as St. Louis, Indianapolis and Cincinnati and as far to the south as New Orleans, Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida, for a time on Tuesday and/or Tuesday night. Storms may reach Atlanta by Wednesday morning.

During Wednesday, gusty to locally severe thunderstorms could occur from the Carolinas to Maryland. - AccuWeather.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: President Obama Calls For Swift Action On Zika Virus Amid Disease's Rapid Spread - WHO Says The Disease Could Infect As Many As FOUR MILLION PEOPLE In The Americas!

January 29, 2016 - AMERICAS - President Barack Obama is calling for rapid research on the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which can cause serious birth defects.

This comes as the World Health Organization has warned that the disease could infect as many as 4 million people in the Americas.

After the president was briefed on the spread of the virus by top health officials on Tuesday, Obama said research to develop vaccines and treatments for the Zika virus must be sped up.

“The president emphasized the need to accelerate research efforts to make available better diagnostic tests, to develop vaccines and therapeutics, and to ensure that all Americans have information about the Zika virus and steps they can take to better protect themselves from infection,” the White House said in a statement.

The World Health Organization (WHO) vindicated Obama’s concerns on Thursday by announcing an emergency meeting to try to stop the spread of the disease. In Brazil, as many as 4,000 infants of mothers carrying the virus have been born with microcephaly, a birth defect that results in an underdeveloped head and brain.

“The level of alarm is extremely high, as is the level of uncertainty. Questions abound. We need to get some answers quickly,” WHO Director General Margaret Chan said in Geneva during a briefing for member countries.

The links between Zika and severe birth defects have only been “recently suspected” and therefore radically change the virus’s “risk profile,” Chan said.

“The increased incidence of microcephaly is particularly alarming, as it places a heart-breaking burden on families and communities,” she added.

The announcement was made during a special briefing on the Zika crisis for WHO’s executive board at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva. Mosquitoes known as Aedes aegypti are spreading the virus locally in 23 countries, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 31 cases in 21 states. All cases in the United States are travel-related, but the number of them is increasing rapidly, the CDC said.

However, 20 cases of local transmissions have been reported in US territories, including 19 in Puerto Rico and one in the US Virgin Islands.

There is currently no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which is related to dengue fever and chikungunya. Health officials can only advise people to try to avoid mosquito bites, with some authorities going as far to advise against traveling to some countries, and recommending that women living in those countries delay having children.

A recent Lancet study suggested that the mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus could spread to areas in the United States, where about 200 million people live.

“This highlights the need for NIH and its partners in the public and private sectors to intensify research on Zika virus and to look for new ways to treat the disease and prevent its spread,” National Institute of Health director Francis Collins wrote in a blog post.

However, living conditions in the United States, where most buildings have air conditioning and window screens, will make it difficult for outbreaks to reach severe levels there, CDC Deputy Director Anne Schuchat told reporters on Thursday.

The WHO said the spread of Zika has been so rapid because the disease has only just emerged, meaning the population has not had a chance to build up immunity, and the mosquito primarily responsible for transmitting it is found in most countries in the Americas. The disease was first detected among humans in Uganda in 1947. - RT.

GLOBAL COASTAL EVENT: Mega Wipeout - Surfer Thrown 40 FEET HIGH From Epic Wave In Hawaii, As El Nino Creates RECORD SWELLS In The Pacific Ocean! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

January 29, 2016 - HAWAII - The surf was well and truly up for Tom Dosland yesterday when he took this tremendous topple from the top of Maui’s famous Pe’ahi (Jaws) wave.

Hawaii is seeing record swells thanks to El Nino, and Dosland was lucky enough to escape unscathed from the fall.

WATCH: Record swells and wipeouts in Hawaii.

Hawaii has seen huge swells already in January, but yesterday saw the largest yet as 40ft sets lined up at the famous surfing spot in Maui - even the occasional 50 footer found its way through.

Dosland was among dozens of surfers who took to the waters to brave the swell so large that pro surfer Jamie O’Brien admitted to being incredibly scared in the water.

A video posted by Jamie O'Brien (@whoisjob) on

A video posted by Maui Rippers (@mauirippers_official) on

El Nino has been causing extreme weather patterns recently, with the Pacific suffering huge storms. The Californian city of Pacifica has declared a local emergency due to severe cliff erosion caused by El Nino.

For now, at least, El Nino is very much welcomed by the surfers who have flocked to Hawaii’s shores, as the islands see some of their largest waves since 2001. - RT.